Thursday, November 15, 2007

At The Center Of It All

How the Steelers have handled the center position since the end of last season has been puzzling, to say the least.

During training camp, Sean Mahan, Chukky Okobi, Marvin Phillip, Darnell Stapleton, Kendall Simmons and others took snaps at the position (not counting long-snapper Greg Warren). The Steelers opened the season with Mahan and Stapleton. Now, they’ve promoted Marvin Phillip from the practice squad.

As noted over at Blitzburgh Report, it’s puzzling that the Steelers once again are carrying three centers on the active roster (and only two tight ends, by the way, unless you count Max Starks).

More Questions Than Answers
Why are the Steelers carrying three centers? How does Phillip fit in this equation? Where does he fit on the depth chart? What happens to Darnell Stapleton? Does Phillip’s promotion portend a position shift for starting center Sean Mahan? If so, would he move to guard? Does this foreshadow the departure of Alan Faneca? Are we asking too many questions? Do we over-think stuff like this? Do we need to get a life? Never mind those last few questions (we know the answers).

Anyway, it’s safe to assume the Steelers decades-long legacy of stability at the center position is over. Since Buzz Nutter* (pictured above) manned the position in 1964, the Steelers’ centers have been Ray Mansfield (The Ranger), Mike Webster (Hall of Famer), Dermontti Dawson (future Hall of Famer) and Jeff Hartings (Pro Bowler). That’s it.

*It’s worth noting that the Steelers once had Buzz Nutter snapping the ball to quarterback Dick Shiner.

  • Too bad about Jerame Tuman and Ryan Clark, by the way. Both have been good players for the Steelers, and both seem like genuinely good guys. Tuman has given the Steelers many good years, and he may be at the end of the line. His season seems to have been finished by injury. Clark’s season, on the other hand, seems to have been cut short by illness (reportedly sickle cell), a medical condition that is much more scary than an injury. Clark was quoted as saying,

“I’m just in pain. You know they told me it was going to be painful situation… …You feel it in whatever you do, take a step, or try to lay down, sit down. You know, I feel a pain.”

Sickle cell is bad, bad shit — serious stuff, and we wish Ryan Clark all the best for a speedy return to full good health.

  • We can assume newly promoted cornerback Grant Mason will be on kick coverage. Unless you’re at the game, it’s hard to tell who is on kick coverage units, so can anybody tell us … does Darnell Stapleton cover kicks?
  • How long will Allen Rossum remain the kick returner?
  • We’re wondering what’s up with running back Gary Russell. He was reportedly held out of practice yesterday. Is he healthy? He’s been on the inactive list for every game this season. Last Sunday, the reason noted was “personal reasons.”

“I think the final score of Sunday's Steelers game is taking away from what really happened on the field. That of course being, the Browns offense went nearly three full quarters without a first down.

Second quarter: one first down
Third quarter: zero first downs
Fourth quarter: zero first downs until the final drive with two minutes remaining in the game.

“Joshua Cribbs kept them in the game and almost won it by himself.”

  • One For The Other Thumb has a funny poll about where we might find Jeff Reed hanging out this weekend. Also, some nice props for Willie Parker’s visit to the local hospital for children:

“I was very glad to hear and see that Fast Willie Parker's visit to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh (just so you know, that's not correct English...) was a thrilling experience for the kids …Here are a couple photos from Willie's visit, sent over by the good people at FedEx (they really are very nice by the way, I’m not being sarcastic...hard to tell sometimes, I know)"


Cotter said...

That dude who writes One For The Other Thumb is a real asshole, huh?

Thanks for the shout brotha!! Much appreciated.

Cotter said...

Oh yeah, and I think Russell missed practice because his father died last Saturday

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

Oh, okay, that would explain it. Wow. Russell's only 21. I wonder old his father was.

Anonymous said...

According to PG reports, Clark actually has sickle cell trait, rather than the full-blown disease.

Sickle cell trait is actully pretty benign....except for at high altitudes (and a few other select situations). Which explians why it hasn't really surfaced until now (Clark said that when he played in Denver for Washington, he had problems, too, but got a different diagnosis).

So, once Clark is over this episode, he should be in pretty good shape.

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

Well, that's good to hear.